Through the Endless Void

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(Continued from Intergalactic Voyage Extraordinaire)

So!  You’ve managed to snag a seat on a voyage into the cosmos.  Congratulations!

After the first few days of excitement, however, you will find that things will have settled down to a dull roar.  The daily and nightly routine, perfectly maintained by the ship’s crew as a means to allow for the human body to adjust to the fact that, out here in Nowheresville, there is no sun, and therefore, no day or night, is nearly perfect.

drinkingcoffeeBut who are they kidding?  That morning wake-up call may sound like the morning has arrived, but deep down inside, you know, by the ubiquitous low hum of the ship’s machinery, that there is no morning.  There is nothing but the deep, dark, endless void of forever night.

So you know what I would do?  I would put on my happy face, order some dark strong brew, and as I am drinking up the hot beverage-of-choice, I would add some bright Ultraviolet B waves to the lights above to trick my body into thinking it’s a bright cheerful day on Mother Earth.  Just a bit of that ole vitamin D really does the trick.

A few stretches, ten minutes of meditation and deep breathing, and off to the shower we go.  There is no substitute for fresh oxygen from a mountain retreat, of course, but a molecule of oxygen is a molecule of oxygen, and the body does with it, what it will.  All we can do is what we can do, and the small things that we do for ourselves are very much appreciated by our body.

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One of the things that helps tremendously is to get a nice pot of aloe vera and keep it growing during your trip.  The environment inside a ship is very dry and rather cold.  Static builds up quickly, so try to stay moisturized.

For dry lips and hands, snapping off a small tip and applying it to the skin works wonders.  Also, adding oil to the skin after bathing helps to lock in moisture in an otherwise very dry environment.

As to the rest of the day, the best thing to do is to stay busy.  Creative endeavors tend to be more rewarding than watching a movie or a sports game.

Staying engaged and focus on something fun allows for time to move quickly, and that’s what you really want, because don’t let anyone kid you.  Space is huge!  The vastness of space, as defined by the distances between two heavenly bodies, is mind-numbing.  There is a short amount of time when you are rushing around, doing something important, but once that flurry of activity is done, it’s all a matter of hurry-up-and-wait.

If it wasn’t for the fact that we got new technology, like this photonic propulsion engine, giving us warp speed the likes of Star Trek, I would never get my ass on one of those generational spaceships, the kind that takes two or three full generations of people to get from one place to another.  [2]

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Imagine spending your entire life working to keep a spaceship humming along, knowing full well that you will die long before your ship reaches destination.  You nevertheless work diligently so that your children and their children might make it there alive.  And then what happens?

Your children get to the destination planet, only to meet and greet other people who have been living there for ages, due to faster-than-light technology that was discovered during the time the generational ships were in flight.  They got there in a matter of months, as opposed to a matter of generations of humans.

88_head_shots_by_vashperado-d70bun9That’s gotta be a depressing thought, and we Taobabes are not about depressing thoughts.  We are all about positive, creative thoughts, and an enlightened viewpoint.

So what do you do when there’s nothing to do but stare out at the distant stars?  Why, you look at the travel catalog and wonder what the next world you land at is going to look like, of course.  And this busy Taobabe would be busy doing the exact same thing.

Let’s take a look at Snow White and her seven dwarves, shall we?  Since we know absolutely zilch about this solar system, I’m going to take some artistic license and write up a bit about each of these planets…play-pretend as if I’ve been there before, and describe it in a more evocative fashion than what NASA has managed to do on their website.  Because let’s face it: size, circumference, temperature, and radius is only something that guys obsess over.  (I’m going to let you think about what I just said).  I’d rather read up on the more colorful details.

Trappist 1

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Here are the seven dwarves again, just to refresh everyone’s memory.  I have removed the Disney characters because we no longer need them as mnemonic devices, and I have added basic dimensions for each planet.

For comparison’s sake, I have added the radius of each planet, in relation to Earth.  For example, if Doc has a radius of 1.09, then it is slightly larger than Earth, arbitrarily designated as radius 1.

trappist1-bDoc (Trappist-1 b) is a terrestrial exoplanet that orbits a M-type star. It has a radius of 1.09, takes 1.51 days to complete one orbit of its star, and is 0.01111 AU from its star. [1]

Personally, what I see is a very hard boiled egg yolk, seared in various places by a sun that, although dimwitted and dulled by age, still has a spicy kick to it once in a blue spasm.

Visit Doc if you wish to get that famous irradiated flash-broiled Cheetos suntan from time to time.  It makes for a good conversation-starter with the likes of Prez Trump.

The other option is that you could maintain a safe distance from above, via floating cities cloaked with force-fields that will stave off most of the dangerous radiation.  I would presume this world would provide a very colorful vista below, in all shades of oranges and reds.

trappist1-c.pngGrumpy (Trappist-1 c) is a terrestrial exoplanet that orbits a M-type star. It is 1.38 x Earth, takes 2.42 days to complete one orbit of its star, and is 0.01521 AU from its star. Its discovery was announced in May 2016. [1]

Grumpy looks rather nice from above, and in many aspects, it probably is.  It’s far enough from Snow White, our ageing solar dance partner, so that it doesn’t get quite as much of the heat but still manages to stay nice and warm.

Think Death Valley, on a warm summer day, and you will have Grumpy in a nutshell.  Having said that, the poles will be on the cooler side, which means habitation is not only possible, it’s also desirable.  Even Death Valley has oases with which to draw liquid sustenance from, and even Death Valley blooms and grows, and Grumpy will be no different.  Hope springs eternal, and so does liquid water, from its underground honeycombs.

trappist1-d.pngHappy (Trappist-1 d) is one of seven Earth-sized planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system. About 40 light-years from Earth, the proximity of the planets to their red dwarf star may indicate that any of them could have water on their surface. [1]

Happy, happy, joy, joy.  It’s the second smallest planet that circles Snow White, and due to the fact that it is only 3/4 the size of Earth, it will allow us to move around with ease.  We will have lost a huge amount of weight with zero efforts at dieting, and walking around on the surface would be akin to taking a step and springing up three feet above the ground.

As the image shows, it is tidally locked, which means the side that faces Snow White is always going to be daylight, whereas the side that never faces Snow White is always going to be part of the eternal nightshade.  This means all the liquids will be existing around the ring of twilight, and there, we will (mostly) stay.  Vacations here will be perennially twilight or sunrise, depending on your mood.

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Sleepy (Trappist-1 e) is a terrestrial exoplanet that orbits a M-type star with a radius of .92 that of Earth–very close to Earth-size for bodily comfort, but just slightly small enough to add a spring in your step.  It takes 6.1 days to complete one orbit of Snow White, and is 0.02817 AU from its star.  [1]

Think of Hawaii.  Better yet, think of Barbados.  This world is just about as close as you can get to paradise, complete with puffy white clouds and a watery ocean filled with all sorts of interesting creatures.  You can snorkel, scuba dive, surf the waves, and play along the airways with your jet packs and skis.  You can also indulge in the activity of doing nothing.

This place is perfect for those of the less-adventurous nature…namely yours truly.  All I want to do when I get off the dang blasted ship is to lie about on the Promenade deck and soak up the sun, with a melting tropical drink and a nice Bahamas tune playing in my headset.

trappist1-fSneezy (Trappist-1 f) is a terrestrial exoplanet that orbits a M-type star. It is 1.04 radius, which makes it slightly larger than Earth.  It takes 9.21 days to complete one orbit of its star, and is 0.0371 AU from its star.

Sneezy is an interesting planet.  Although it is very similar to Sleepy in composition and size, it needs a little bit more terraforming for it to be truly comfortable, in that posh Sleepy way.

Don’t get me wrong.  If you are into all things cold and snowy, it’s a perfect environment for those who love to ski and revel in colder climates.  It’s just a little too cold for my tropical butt.  Too much ice.  Too much snow.

trappist1-g.pngBashful (Trappist-1 g) is a terrestrial exoplanet that orbits a M-type star. It is 1.34 in radius, so a bit larger than Earth, takes 12.35 days to complete one orbit of its star, and is 0.0451 AU from Snow White.

This is one where I would advise that you look out your window and wave as you fly by, because as pretty as it looks from above, the atmosphere is rather noxious.  The clouds are composed of methane ice crystals since the absorption of red light by methane in Bashful’s atmosphere gives the planet its distinctive aqua color.

Unmanned probes would be the ticket here, so we can take a glimpse of the surface of this bashful planet to see what’s down below.  I’m sure there are plenty of organisms that are right at home in a methane-filled environment.  And NO, they won’t smell rotten.  That godawful stench that most people associate with methane is just other swampy gasses mixed in.  Methane itself, has no smell, so any living things there won’t be ostracized due to its scent.

trappist1-h

Dopey (Trappist-1 h) is a terrestrial exoplanet that orbits a M-type star.  It has a radius of .76, so it is the smallest planet of this system, and rightly takes the Dopey name.  It takes 20.0 days to complete one orbit of its star, and is 0.063 AU from its star.

Being this far out from that sleepy old red star, misnamed (by me, of course) Snow White, it will be rather cold.  In fact, it is going to be covered in permafrost…as in permanent frost.

This place will probably end up looking much like a north pole outpost, with a single igloo-looking station and a single flag pole with the Earth flag stuck on it, waving forlornly at whoever happens to pass by.

And there we have it.  All the planets of Snow White.  I’ll be back, I’m sure, to fix the names to whatever folks far above my pay grade decide they are going to be.  Until then…safe travels, my friends.

[1]  NASA Trappist Information

[2]  NASA Thinks There’s a Way to Get to Mars In Three Days